Preparing for a marathon is a huge commitment, particularly if, like many competitors, you have a fundraising target to consider as well. Here 23-year-old Izzy, who joined our 2022 London Marathon team at short notice after one of our runners got injured, explains how she did it.
Prior to October, I had never run a marathon. I would describe myself as a regular runner and had run a couple of half marathons. Since I started running during the COVID-19 lockdowns I had always thought I would only go for the marathon distance if it was London, so I was delighted when the opportunity arose to run for CLDF, even though it was less than three months until Marathon day, so I knew I’d need to step up my training!
I decided to follow an ASICS training plan that I found online (https://13milers.com/marathontrainingplans) but having only taken on the challenge around 10 weeks from the marathon day, I had to join the plan at Week 5 rather than Week 1. Despite this, I found the plan really good and actually very manageable, I liked the fact that most weeks only had three or four runs so, whilst lots of these were quite long, I wasn’t running every day. Overall, I massively enjoyed training and it resulted in me getting out in nature and seeing so much more both of my own local area and also wherever I happened to be when I was training.
I’ve never been great at running in the heat and most of my training was done right in the middle of the very hot summer. So I decided to get a hydration backpack, which is essentially just a light/tight rucksack in which you can store a hydration bladder (bag) filled with water which is connected to a tube that you can drink from. It also has a whole host of different pockets which allowed me to carry my phone, energy gels and other bits and pieces. It helped me so much during training and meant that I was able to plan my training runs just based on where I wanted to go and not worry about picking up fuel or water along the way. I know lots of runners plan runs with laps passing by home to collect water but this allowed me to go further afield and proved a great investment.
I’m currently studying for the Bar Course as I am training to be a Barrister. During the summer, I was working full time between two jobs and it was a colleague at one of those jobs (where I still work part time) who shared the fact that CLDF was looking for an extra runner. As a result, many of my colleagues were supporting me from the very beginning of my training and were incredibly generous in doing so (huge thank you to everyone at Source!) I also made sure to share my fundraising link on social media (including Strava!) and become ‘that person’ who talks about marathon training whenever and wherever possible, which often resulted in people asking for my fundraising link and being kind enough to donate.
I leveraged some of my skills (particularly painting nails and some CV/interview advice in my area of expertise) in return for extra donations, which is a nice alternative to just asking for money. Mica, my contact at CLDF, was always on hand with fundraising advice and support which was really helpful.
The big day
It sounds like such a cliche, but London Marathon day was without question one of the best days of my life! There had been a lot of talk about rain and I was very nervous about the logistics of travelling on the marathon morning, but once we set off it was just a complete joy to be involved. I was so glad to have reached the start line with no injuries and it felt on the day like all my training had paid off. Having put in a couple of long (20+ mile) training runs which I ran entirely by myself, it just felt so awesome to be carried along by a sea of other runners and, for a lot of the race, I barely noticed the distance moving by.
I was so moved to see so many other charity runners, many of whom had notes on their kit that they were running for a partner, a parent, a child or other loved one – I certainly did a lot of thinking over the 26 miles about how amazing all of us charity runners were and how much good would come from all of the money we were raising.
And although I had only planned to use my hydration backpack during training, the closer I got to the marathon, I couldn’t imagine running without it. I ended up wearing it on marathon day and found it very comforting to know that I would be able to have water whenever I needed it – it was particularly useful to have water on hand to wash down the gels that I was using for fuel so that I didn’t have to wait for a hydration stop in the race, but I still used the hydration stations anyway as it ended up being a hot day!
I managed to complete the course in 3 hours and 54 minutes and the sense of achievement was amazing. To anyone who gets this opportunity, I would say seize it. Yes, training and fundraising is hard work and takes some planning but it’s do-able and the rewards are so worthwhile.